Elvis' 1965 Gibson EBS-1250 Double Bass
(used in Spinout)


Dodie Marshall, Elvis with Double Bass and Jack Mullaney in a scene from Spinout - 1966
Screen capture Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Of the many guitars used, seen and featured in the 1966 release of MGM's Spinout, one that probably stands out and comes to mind as representative of it is Elvis' 1965 Gibson EBS-1250 Double Bass.


Elvis with Double Bass in a promotional shot for Spinout - 1966
Photo courtesy FECC/Desert Storm

Though heavily pictured in the artwork and promotional materials for the U.S. release of the movie, Elvis is only pictured using it briefly in one of the final scenes.  Early on in the film it is also seen used briefly by co-star Jimmy Hawkins.


Elvis with Double Bass on the set of Spinout - 1966
Photo courtesy FECC/Desert Storm

Whether supplied by MGM's prop department or how the Double Bass came to be used in the movie is not exactly clear.  One story that's been told along with an EBS-1250 sold on eBay some time ago is that the Colonel found out about a 1964 model built for a man in Indiana, saw it and ordered one built for the movie. This however can not be substantiated and sounds highly unlikely. If the guitar though didn't belong to Elvis before the production of the movie, it did after.


Elvis with Double Bass on the set of Spinout - 1966
Photo Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

For a time it was one of his favorites, no doubt in part because of the easy playability and fast action of the six string Gibson SG neck. It appears to be the only solid body electric with a six string that he owned.  Memphis Mafia member Marty Lacker who was instrumental, actually solely responsible for Elvis going to American Sound to record with Chips Moman in 1969 said that there was a period of time when Elvis used to play that red double neck at Graceland a lot.  He would sit on the arm of the couch in what is now known as the Jungle Room, which we referred to as the Den, and play. Usually Red (West) would play another guitar along with him. Sometimes it would be plugged in but most time's it wouldn't be.  He loved the line,"Goin' Up,Goin' down," in "Baby What You Want Me To Do."

gib63p15.jpg (121882 bytes)
Page 15 of the 1963 Gibson Guitar and Bass catalog
courtesy Vintage Guitars and Basses

Gibson began making electric double neck guitars in their Custom department in 1958 with the EDS-1275 Double 12 (configured with an upper twelve string neck), and an EMS-1235 Double Mandolin (with an upper eight string mandolin neck). Each had a 24.75 inch scale length lower 6 string neck.  Originally designed as thicker hollow body type guitars they changed in 1962 to the thinner solid mahogany double cutaway design based on the Gibson SG (solid guitar) model originally introduced as the redesign of the Gibson Les Paul but rejected by Les (Elvis used a Gibson SG in 1967's Easy Come, Easy Go).


 '62/3 White and '64 Sunburst and EBSF-1250s and a '64 Black EBS-1250
Photos courtesy Vintage Gibson Guitars, Mo Foster and eBay

That same year Gibson introduced a third variation, the EBSF 1250, essentially a double neck that featured a bass as the upper neck based on their 30.5 inch scale length EB-3 and equipped with built in fuzz tone circuitry from their popular FZ-1 tone pedal.  They were available in White, Black, Cherry and Sunburst finishes.  In 1964 and 1965 the Fuzz circuit was discontinued, the 'F' dropped from the name and ultimately the 4 string bass neck was replaced by the 6 string bass neck like Gibson's EB-6.


Elvis' 1965 Gibson EBS-1250 Double Bass on display at Graceland - May 2006
Photo James V. Roy


Elvis' 1965 Gibson EBS-1250 Double Bass on display at Graceland - May 2006
Photo James V. Roy

Elvis' was essentially a Cherry finished mahogany double neck of the SG Standard type with an EB-6 as the upper neck. It featured a selectable set of two humbucking pickups for each neck with 2 volume/2 tone controls; 20-fret bound rosewood fingerboards, pearl trapezoid inlays and crowns on the headstocks; 3-per-side tuners each with pearl buttons on the lower 6 string neck; 3-position neck/pickup selector switches; 2 piece black 3-ply laminated pickguard; and a tune-o-matic bridge on the 6 string with a vibrato tailpiece.


Elvis' 1965 Gibson EBS-1250 Double Bass on display at Graceland - May 2006
Photo James V. Roy

The three versions of the Gibson's doubleneck guitars were made only until 1968, though several of the Double 12s were made in 1977 and 1978 and they were reintroduced for a time in the '90s as part of Gibson's historic line, no doubt in part due to Jimmy Page who used one with Led Zeppelin.  Since then Gibson's Custom shop on occasion turns out one.  Of the Double Basses, in all only 22 were made, with the 6 string bass version being the rarest.  Elvis' is still part of the collection at Graceland.

This page added August 15, 2010 is part of the sections The Guitars of Spinout and The Movie Guitars of Elvis Presley.

Much of the history of the Gibson Doublenecks presented here was found through various sources on the web including but not limited to Vintage Guitars and Basses, Music Instrument Reviews - Vintage Gibson Guitars, and Gibson Doublenecks by George Gruhn. Special thanks to Marty Lacker for his help with this page.

 

All photos on this page unless otherwise indicated are the property of the designated persons or company, any unauthorized use or reproduction is prohibited.

 
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